Dan Feldman

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings reacts to a foul called against him during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center on October 27, 2016 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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DeMarcus Cousins says he doesn’t expect Kings to trade him

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Fighting unrelenting chatter that they’ll eventually trade DeMarcus Cousins – some of it emanating from within the organization – the Kings have sent clear signals they will keep him.

One person who has has received those signals?

Cousins himself.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Will the Sacramento Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins before he completes the second-to-last year on his current contract?

Cousins himself, to name one prominent party in this long-running drama, doesn’t expect it.

“Unless you know something I don’t,” Cousins said with a chuckle earlier this week during a brief postgame visit in Dallas with ESPN.com.

“I talk to management a lot,” Cousins told ESPN.com. “We’re on the same page. I’m not worried about it.

“To know that you’re wanted throughout the league … I’d be worried if nobody wanted me. Then I’d have a situation on my hands. But I’m happy where I am. I’m happy with this team. I’m in a great place.”

This is what Sacramento wants: Cousins happy. Players tend to produce more when they’re pleased with their situation, and Cousins keeps saying he is.

But this isn’t enough. If they keep him until then, the Kings need Cousins on board with them in the summer of 2018, when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

It’s a start, though. After numerous turbulent years, Sacramento has its franchise player sounding invested. That’s all the Kings can ask of Cousins right now. But as long as they continue to lose – they’re 8-15 – questions will remain about Cousins’ free-agency plans. And as long as those questions remain, Sacramento should entertain the idea of dealing Cousins.

If the Kings can keep that possibility open and keep Cousins happy, that’s the ideal tightrope to walk. It appears they’re doing it.

Draymond Green claims Quin Snyder dissed him, but only Green’s mom knows source of Jazz coach’s ‘quote’

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after making a shot against the Dallas Mavericks at ORACLE Arena on November 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Draymond Green said the Warriors were laughing at Jazz coach Quin Snyder for calling timeouts late in a game Golden State had all but locked up.

What caused that particularly harsh treatment of Snyder, not just the laughing but the public declaration that it was at his expense?

A game of telephone traced back from Kevin Durant to Green to Green’s mom to Snyder – which revealed Snyder supposedly said Utah’s plan was to let Green shoot.

Durant, via Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News:

I love the sheepish reaction from Durant when asked where he heard about the alleged quote. It’s almost as if Durant knew he’d been had.

Green was less questioning of the veracity of Snyder’s alleged quote, via Slater:

And where did Green’s mom find the quote? That’s where the trail runs cold.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

How about this interesting twist: Media who attended Thursday’s interview sessions and Jazz PR can’t remember or locate the origination of the Snyder quote Green’s mom sent him.

Snyder continued about how he apparently unintentionally motivated the Warrior.

“He’s so competitive, he’s going to make you pay for what he thinks you’re thinking. To me, it’s a compliment to him, if anything, that he’s able to generate motivation from a situation that that’s now how I want to guard him. Some of those threes were in transition and things like that. But again, he’s one of those guys that I love to watch him play, and there isn’t anything he can’t do on the court, including making plays and shoot.”

Green once motivated himself by focusing on the criticism that pushed him into the second round: too short, too chubby, position-less, unable to defend. Now an NBA champion and an All-Star, he needs new sources of motivation – even if he has to make them up.

Mark Cuban: Russell Westbrook still not a superstar

russell westbrook triple double
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Remember when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Russell Westbrook wasn’t a superstar?

That led to this fun moment, where Kevin Durant vigorously defended his then-teammate. (Ah, simpler times.)

It also led to this stubborn take from Cuban now.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Cuban said in April, about an hour before Westbrook’s 36-point, 12-rebound, nine-assist performance in Game 5 of the first round to eliminate the Mavs, that a true superstar can carry a mediocre roster to 50 wins and a postseason series win.

“He’s putting up superstar numbers. That’s for damn sure,” Cuban said of Westbrook as the Thunder took on the Houston Rockets on Friday night. “I’m not taking anything away from what he’s been able to accomplish, but I’m not going to change my definition. He’s putting up superstar numbers. You can’t deny that.”

“That’s no disrespect to Russell,” Cuban said. “He’s been a beast. Few have done what he’s done, but I’ll stick by my definition. I’m not saying that he’s not going to prove me wrong and that he [won’t be] a superstar by the end of the year. That’s fine, but I’ll stick by my definition.”

Ever have a dumb opinion and rather than admitting your error, you double down? That’s what Cuban is doing.

Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, and the Thunder are on pace to win 51 games. He can lead his mediocre supporting cast to 50 wins and the postseason. He might not, because more Western Conference teams have superstars – Warriors (Durant and Stephen Curry), Clippers (Chris Paul), Spurs (Kawhi Leonard), Rockets (James Harden), Pelicans (Anthony Davis) and Thunder (Westbrook) – that slots in the second round. But Westbrook is definitely capable.

The term superstar is thrown around to loosely, but Cuban is overcorrecting. By his definition, Kobe Bryant wasn’t a superstar. The Lakers won 34, 45 and 42 games and no playoff series in the three years between Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol.

Donatas Motiejunas says Rockets sent him home from game, as they reportedly gather medical information

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets and Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Brooklyn Nets fight for the loose ball at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.The Houston Rockets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 113-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Donatas Motiejunas signed a four-year, $35 million contract with the Rockets, ending this lengthy saga.

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets officials are still awaiting medical information on power forward Donatas Motiejunas before allowing him to return to the team, according to a source.

Motiejunas took his physical on Friday in Houston, and coach Mike D’Antoni said he expected Motiejunas to be with the team Saturday.

“I was there but they told me to go home,” Motiejunas said in a text message to ESPN.

Motiejunas must pass a physical with the Rockets, a determination that is their sole judgment. Houston must decide within six business days of officially signing him, which would make the deadline next Monday if his signing became official last Friday.

If Motiejunas passes the physical, his contract becomes valid. If he fails it, he returns to restricted free agency. Potentially, the Rockets could argue to reopen his Nets offer sheet if they released him from that in conjunction with signing this new contract – though, depending on physical results, Houston might not want that offer sheet open.

Even a failed physical wouldn’t close the door on Motiejunas returning to the Rockets. They just might want to rework the contract after learning more about his injury risk, especially given his history of back problems.

Karl-Anthony Towns comes from 3-point arc to convert putback dunk (video)

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A drawback to big men shooting from the perimeter is that it puts them out of position for offensive rebounds.

Karl-Anthony Towns – whose foot was on the 3-point arc while Ricky Rubio‘s shot was airborne – is good enough to negate that negative side effect.